Kamui Kobayashi

Date published: January 27 2012

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It took only two grands prix for Kamui Kobayashi to secure a full-time race-seat with Sauber, a team known for getting the best out of young drivers, such as the exciting talent of the Japanese driver.

It took only two grands prix for Kamui Kobayashi to secure a full-time race-seat with Sauber, a team known for getting the best out of young drivers, such as the exciting talent of the Japanese driver.

Kobayashi began his racing career in karting before moving on to the Formula Renault series in 2004 where he claimed two race wins in his first season before securing the overall Championship title a year later.

Following his success the previous year, the Amagasaki-born driver joined the Formula Three Euroseries in 2006, becoming a member of the ASM Formule 3 team alongside future F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

At the beginning of 2007 Kobayashi and compatriot Kohei Hirate were named as Toyota’s new Formula One testers. Kobayashi remained in Formula Three for the 2007 season and was promoted to the position of third driver at the Toyota F1 team, with the youngster replacing Franck Montagny.

The Japanese continued his role with the team while participating in the GP2 series, finishing 16th in the overall series and first in the Asia series in 2009.

Kobayashi was able to gather valuable time behind the wheel of Toyota’s 2009 model having deputised for Timo Glock after the German fell ill before Friday practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.

With Glock cracking a vertebra in qualifying for the race the next day, Kobayashi was the ‘natural choice’ to replace the German according to then team boss John Howett.

He made an immediate impression on the F1 paddock, delighting fans around the world when he refused to be humbled by the talent around him, keeping World Champion Jenson Button at bay for many a lap in Brazil. Unfortunately, though, what looked to be his first points in his first race eventually saw only a P9 finish for the Japanese driver.

With Glock failing to recover in time for the Abu Dhabi GP, he was given another shot to impress and he did so, beating his much-experienced team-mate Jarno Trulli in the season-ending race.

A P6 finish to Trulli’s P7 led to rumours of that Toyota would sign him on a permanent basis, however, the team’s withdrawal from F1 left Kobayashi pondering life at his father’s restaurant.

Sauber, though, came to his rescue as the team, finally confirmed for 2010, were quick to snap him up, giving F1 fans the opportunity to see whether this exciting young talent can mature into a race-winning Champion.

Kobayashi didn’t disappoint as his 32 points and 12th place in the Drivers’ Championship saw him beat the other rookies on the grid in 2010. However, things didn’t look too rosy for him at the start of the season as Sauber struggled to get their car going. He suffered six retirements in the first eight races of the season. Squashed in the middle was his first point of the season – a 10th place in Turkey.

The team finally got their act together as they turned a corner and naturally the points started to roll in. He picked up 31 points in final 11 races of the season with a season’s best sixth in the British Grand Prix.

His ability to overtake more seasoned campaigners were once again a highlight for many on the grid and his place for the 2011 season was never in any doubt.

Kobayashi took over the leadership role at Sauber in 2011 after he was partnered with rookie Sergio P

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